The Cherokee religion

The songs and dances of Cherokee ceremonies and how their language is used as part of Christian wors

The Cherokee’s are very religious people. Before European contact we were religious in knowing we had a creator, and worshipped him through song and dance. The man would sing the songs and woman would keep a beat to the songs through instruments called shackles. They are made from turtle shells with river rocks inside and attached to a piece of leather; these are strapped to both of the woman’s legs.

Today some people use aluminum cans filled with pebbles to provide rhythm while they dance around the eternal fire.

When they dance they are singing and praying to the creator, just like people do today in the churches.

When one goes to a dance these days the families gather to visit, feast and they dance far into the night.

This is a place to worship and in the Cherokee language we call God, or creator, U-ne-tla-nv. This is our church, and just like any other churches you have no littering, liquor, and/or rowdy behavior.

Although we did not know him as God, it is the same person that we worshiped back then. Today some of the dances still go on the same way.

We had European influence and the missionaries who started pushing religion on us; because all of the beliefs were already there, it was very easy to switch the Cherokee’s into Christianity.

I believe most native tribe’s are very religious in their own way, because of the fact we live so close with the earth. Although some have evolved or others have been modified, the traditional Cherokee’s of today recognize the belief system as an integral part of day to day life.

Many Cherokees today go to church just as any other person does. I, personally, went to both the dances and churches while growing up. Although my father did not fully understand the dances, he did not forbid us from going.

Our father was a minister in some local churches and he would preach the sermon in the Cherokee language in the Tahlequah, Oklahoma, area where we lived and is considered Capital of the Cherokee Nation. Our mother grew up going to the Stomp dances as her religion while she was growing up. When she met our father and started raising their family they both started attending the local church.

A person can be of any denomination but most of the Cherokee people and family’s that I know are of Baptist faith. In the past they had all Cherokee preaching churches and also what we called a ‘white man’ church; all of the services would be preached in the English language. In the Cherokee churches these days they share both languages. There are not as many Cherokee’s that speak their native tongue anymore, so the sermons in the churches are done in the Cherokee language and in English, as well as, the songs that are sung in the Churches.

Most of my family still speak the Cherokee language and believe in God, Creator or U-ne-tla-nv as our lord and savior.

Kathy Van Buskirk is a Cherokee from Oklahoma, USA. She has been married for 25 years to Perry. They have two children, Christopher 25 and Melissa 10. She has worked at the Cherokee Heritage Center for 20 years.
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Why isn't Labour putting forward Corbynite candidates?

Despite his successes as a candidate, the organisational victories have gone the way of Corbyn's opponents. 

The contest changes, but the result remains the same: Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred candidate defeated in a parliamentary selection. Afzhal Khan is Labour’s candidate in the Manchester Gorton by-election and the overwhelming favourite to be the seat’s next MP.

Although Khan, an MEP, was one of  the minority of Labour’s European MPs to dissent from a letter from the European parliamentary Labour party calling for Jeremy Corbyn to go in the summer of 2016, he backed Andy Burnham and Tom Watson in 2015, and it is widely believed, fairly or unfairly, that Khan had, as one local activist put it, “the brains to know which way the wind was blowing” rather than being a pukka Corbynite.

For the leader’s office, it was a double defeat;  their preferred candidate, Sam Wheeler, was kept off the longlist, when the party’s Corbynsceptics allied with the party’s BAME leadership to draw up an all ethnic minority shortlist, and Yasmine Dar, their back-up option, was narrowly defeated by Khan among members in Manchester Gorton.

But even when the leadership has got its preferred candidate to the contest, they have been defeated. That even happened in Copeland, where the shortlist was drawn up by Corbynites and designed to advantage Rachel Holliday, the leader’s office preferred candidate.

Why does the Labour left keep losing? Supporters combination of bad luck and bad decisions for the defeat.

In Oldham West, where Michael Meacher, a committed supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s, was succeeded by Jim McMahon, who voted for Liz Kendall, McMahon was seen to be so far ahead that they had no credible chance of stopping him. Rosena Allin-Khan was a near-perfect candidate to hold the seat of Tooting: a doctor at the local hospital, the seat’s largest employer, with links to both the Polish and Pakistani communities that make up the seat’s biggest minority blocs.  Gillian Troughton, who won the Copeland selection, is a respected local councillor.

But the leadership has also made bad decisions, some claim.  The failure to get a candidate in Manchester Gorton was particularly egregious, as one trade unionist puts it: “We all knew that Gerald was not going to make it [until 2020], they had a local boy with good connections to the trade unions, that contest should have been theirs for the taking”. Instead, they lost control of the selection panel because Jeremy Corbyn missed an NEC meeting – the NEC is hung at present as the Corbynsceptics sacrificed their majority of one to retain the chair – and with it their best chance of taking the seat.

Others close to the leadership point out that for the first year of Corbyn’s leadership, the leader’s office was more preoccupied with the struggle for survival than it was with getting more of its people in. Decisions in by-elections were taken on the hop and often in a way that led to problems later down the line. It made sense to keep Mo Azam, from the party’s left, off the shortlist in Oldham West when Labour MPs were worried for their own seats and about the Ukip effect if Labour selected a minority candidate. But that enraged the party’s minority politicians and led directly to the all-ethnic-minority shortlist in Manchester Gorton.

They also point out that the party's councillor base, from where many candidates are drawn, is still largely Corbynsceptic, though they hope that this will change in the next round of local government selections. (Councillors must go through a reselection process at every election.)

But the biggest shift has very little to do with the Labour leadership. The big victories for the Labour left in internal battles under Ed Miliband were the result of Unite and the GMB working together. Now they are, for various reasons, at odds and the GMB has proven significantly better at working shortlists and campaigning for its members to become MPs.  That helps Corbynsceptics. “The reason why so many of the unions supported Jeremy the first time,” one senior Corbynite argues, “Is they wanted to move the Labour party a little bit to the left. They didn’t want a socialist transformation of the Labour party. And actually if you look at the people getting selected they are not Corbynites, but they are not Blairites either, and that’s what the unions wanted.”

Regardless of why, it means that, two years into Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour left finds itself smaller in parliament than it was at the beginning.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.